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The 2019 what we are playing thread

I was hit with a heavy cold or a mild flu or something, so I ended up finishing Telltale Batman 1 & 2 over the weekend. The first one made a stab at detective work, but the second game seemed to be aimed at a much younger audience as far as reasoning goes, which doesn’t seem to combine well with the violence. For example, one of Riddler’s “difficult” puzzles was something like sleep, work, die. Which simply told you in which order to press three buttons.

For the most part I quite liked the games, the second one in particular. The QTE fight scenes were slightly less attractive than I expected based on the contemporary Guardians of the Galaxy, which features the very best QTEs I’ve ever experienced. Batman 1 & 2 QTEs by contrast were slightly less impressive.

Batman 2 did have an important innovation on the QTE concept that I don’t think I’ve really seen before, although it may have slipped my mind. It takes the choose your own path concept to the QTE action sequences. Do you want to shock this enemy or tackle them? Grapple them or throw a table? Pick within a couple of seconds and then have another QTE to make sure the attack actually succeeds. Walking Dead probably already had some of that, just not so explicitly. It shows that there are at least two paths that can turn QTEs from annoying interruptions to (almost?) engaging:

  1. Make them so good and elegant that they almost feel like discount Devil May Cry combos or like playing an actual space shooter, like Guardians of the Galaxy. Prince of Persia (2008) also kind of did this in the running on rails sections.
  2. Implement multiple courses of action through QTE (as opposed to act or die), basically the action form of the Telltale dialog system. Batman 2 expands on this in interesting ways.
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The best QTEs are no QTEs :smile:. Though I have to admit that the only game I played that featured them prominently was Indigo Prophecy, and that has been long ago. (I’d rather forget about the borderline dance sequence of Book of Unwritten Tales!)

That said, I guess there’s good intentions behind QTEs: they help to convey a sense of urgency and let players participate in the action instead of showing automatic cutscenes. But I personally found them more frustrating than fun. One reason I still like P&C adventures so much is that they don’t run on a timer :slight_smile:.

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Depends a bit on how you define QTE. I would define games like DDR and Guitar Hero as good QTE, just like the Telltale/Oxenfree dialog system. Prince of Persia 2008 also has engaging QTE-like mechanics in the running sections.

If, on the other hand, you define a QTE as a random prompt to press a button that breaks the usual gameplay mechanics, it’s probably bad. Tomb Raider (2013) is a prime example.

So what I’m saying is that in Guardians of the Galaxy, Telltale has mostly succeeded at making theoretically bad QTEs (à la Tomb Raider 2013) into an engaging DMC-light DDR-like experience. They weren’t just acceptable, but occasionally quite fun. And in Batman, they’ve often made action decisions similar to dialog choices. Also there tends to be a certain consistency in QTEs.

By making you choose how Batman takes out an enemy, the QTE actually matters. It’s not just a matter of push the right button or the cutscene screeches to a halt. And it’s not just a matter of pressing a completely random button either. Those types of QTEs aren’t engaging, but punishment for zoning out a little during a cutscene. It’s especially egregious if there’s actually a 30-second cutscene which randomly throws in some QTEs at the end.

In Bayonetta QTEs were also well done. There the QTE is basically for a bonus, which makes it much more attractive. Instead of QTE or die it’s grab a nice little bonus with the QTE, no biggie if you miss it.

PS Rise of the Tomb Raider significantly improved on the QTEs. There were fewer of them (but still many), and those that remained weren’t usually as random. But they were merely more bearable, not so much enjoyable.

They do though. I leave the computer for a bit while not pausing (after all, can’t die and the music is nice) and then the TWP savegame for example says I’ve been playing for 20 hours. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Funny story… just played that part 2 days ago! I sucked at it.

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:joy: that’s so recognisable!

“You really must suck at these games?”
“No I just fell asleep over the keyboard”

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I’ve been playing some Bridge Constructor Portal. It co-opts your bridge builder mechanics in interesting ways (a bit like The Incredible Machine of yore), which is definitely amusing although not necessarily as engaging as your basic bridge builder.

My biggest annoyance is that you can only zoom by scrolling. I hate that. Nothing wrong with zooming by scrolling, but as the only option it’s the same thing as those adventure games that think point & click should be taken literally.

Played Ankh - Anniversary Edition in a vain attempt to clear out my backlog. It was relatively easy, except on two occasions (which coincidentally both involved throwing stuff out of a window or similar opening). It did have a few funny moments, but mostly it remained pretty bland. Perhaps better voice acting and better 3D technology could have helped to convey a bit more emotion and drama at some points in the story, but even then it would have still lacked a truly gripping plot.

Most noteworthy perhaps was that the end credits thanked Ron Gilbert, Tim Schafer and a couple other P&C veterans. Shows again that those old LucasArts games really left their mark on a lot of developers!

Can’t really recommend, but if it’s on sale and you’ve got some time to waste I guess there could be worse.

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Have you played the German version?

That’s a “problem” of all 3D adventure games IMHO. The graphics of Ankh weren’t that bad at its time.

Naw, only older/lower budget ones. I mentioned The Vanishing of Ethan Carter the other day. Coincidentally I went through the first 15-30 minds of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit right after I posted that. Whether it’s any good I don’t know yet, but it sure looks amazing, and its hardly like Life is Strange looked bad. Stories Untold also looks mostly stunning, and I think Syberia 3 should also be good.

But perhaps more on point, the Gabriel Knight remaster looks pretty decent too. Not saying better, but not bad. :stuck_out_tongue:

Until Down :drooling_face:

Yes. It’s not that the voice acting as such is bad, it’s just that some specific scenes were lacking emphasis. That combined with 3D characters that seemed restricted to a single facial expression occasionally ruined the mood.

The graphics of the anniversary edition aren’t too bad now. Sure, the textures are a bit low-res and the geometry a bit coarse, but it’s not meant to look ultra-realistic anyway. It’s more the characters that lack in their expressiveness. According to the credits it’s using Ogre; I have no idea how good that had been back in 2005 compared to commercial offerings.

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Not very good, but not bad. :wink: But the developers of Ankh have modified the engine AFAIR.

Started playing Disco Elysium. Died after ten minutes, before I even managed to put my pants on. I like it!

I actually had two false starts running it in Wine, but after reducing the graphics settings to lowest it ran the third time round. Need to figure out what’s the highest setting that still works now, then dive in some more. This time I’ll keep away from the light switch …

Turns out it only runs reliable on the lowest settings. But given it’s an isometric game, it’s still looking okay. Anyway, due to my testing I got to experience the first area about 5 or 6 times, and it’s pretty amazing what could be unearthed by going down different lines of dialogue and passing a skill check or two.

Today I just went along with the story, and I must say it’s quite unlike any game I played so far. I’ll just let this bit here speak for itself (mild spoiler, I guess):

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Started it up.

  1. 50 minute intro video. Arrrgh.
  2. Protagonist walks at an extremely leisurely pace for someone in her predicament. Can we speed this up please?
  3. Looks pretty good.
  4. Around the time it came out I was pretty happy with Syberia II and Dreamfall, never really got into the episodic Sam & Max, but how’d I not hear about this?

Anyway, haven’t really played it yet because of that outrageously long intro cinematic. Even without the lack of gameplay implications I’m inclined to think it’d have been better without it, because then I’d have been thrust into a mystery instead of knowing full well what happened.

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Thanks for the review, I might actually play those because GOG tricked me into buying Season 1 by gifting me the second one (and I just cannot own only the middle of a series, can I?) :slight_smile:

Oh I have played such games before: https://youtu.be/PGLmpjWTTnI?t=104

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Finished Disco Elysium, though I rushed the second half. Basically had a couple bad die rolls, and thought about reloading, but then went along with what I got. Surprisingly, I still managed a *good* ending, but I really want to jump back in before things started to deteriorate and see if it can get even better.

But what a game! It’s been a long time since I’ve been so invested with my character, suffering when we got humiliated, rejoicing when we came out on top, and never passing by an opportunity to preach communism :smile:.

Here’s a couple more impressions:


If you like good writing, you should not pass it by. Gameplay wise it’s pretty unique too: an RPG without combat or perhaps an adventure with die rolls. Mechanics are light and focused: if you’re not walking around and inspecting hotspots you’ll be spending your time in dialogues of a depth and breadth I’ve rarely seen. Every 100 XP you get a point to either invest into skills or thoughts and the rest of the time you’ll be investigating the main case or the many mysteries of the (rather compact) game world.

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I’ve played it for a few hours yesterday and today. It seems to be quite linear. As a game it’s… let’s call it promising. Solid effort, well polished. I like the German voices better than the English. There’s this weird thing where some English lines were clearly recorded in a later session and sound completely different. Also some of the cheesy jokes felt like they were translated from German. No less cheesy in German of course but it’s just more polished. I used GOG Galaxy to do the language switching and even though it doesn’t need to redownload… omg it literally takes some 10 minutes to verify the download. And that’s no exaggeration like when I wrote “50 minutes” earlier.

I’m probably about halfway through, or maybe two thirds? Anyhow, there was just a several minute long cheesy escape scene plus extra Indiana Jones-esque travel scene. I don’t find this bothersome. By this point, the game’s earned the right to throw a few minutes of video at me. Not like at the start of the game.

  • Savegames. I can save however much I want.
  • More or less unlimited framerate (max of 1000) with an optional limiter. I didn’t even notice on my desktop, but even though my laptop is a weaker model it was running surprisingly warm for such an old game.
  • Keyboard support is a lot more limited than I like. Yet somehow there’s an Alt+F to see the framerate.
  • This game depends a lot on pixel hunting, so it’s nice to be able to spot the pixel with a highlight occasionally. Like when there’s two hotspots right next to or overlaid on top of each other.
  • Keep it in your pants, Max.
  • Did I already say it felt linear? :wink:

In theory, a Geheimakte Tunguska 2 should be a pretty good game, if they keep this solid base and work on the flaws.

October:
Finished: The Book of Unwritten Tales

Started & Finished a few arcade games (ok, with infinite continues on an emulator, that is not really an achievement- it just shows the ones I tried and kept playing instead of quitting after 5 minutes:
Metal Slug 2
Golden Axe

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That one was pretty cool on… the Mega Drive and/or DOS.

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